East Midlands Grand Prix Series

Hi Everyone,

Delayed starting this report by a classic comeback from Andy Murray (who you may ask?).

The series consists of 8 mid-week events with your best 5 performances to count. The first was held at Silverstone motor racing circuit, a distance of 10K on 6 May, also the 25th anniversary of this particular event. Normally I cycle to the venue, a distance of approximately 15 miles or 1 hour 20 minutes unless a lift is offered from VC&AC member Andy Harper who unfortunately for me has recently moved away from Milton Keynes.

A popular event due to the attractions of the venue, a smooth surface but not necessarily a fast run given the openness of the circuit. I did not arrive as early as I would have liked to allow some time for recovery but that is so often the case when I have to cycle to a venue. The famous pits are used for changing, meeting up and the finish.

With a wide start line (on the grid!) and generally a quality field, the start is usually fast. Given my cycle ride I was obviously not feeling fresh and was soon feeling the effects so it was a matter of hanging in there and trying to run a consistent pace. The earlier wind that I thought may make it difficult had reduced in strength. After the fast start, not surprisingly I seemed to lose a significant number of places but in the second lap I did move up the field and finished well. I was quite satisfied with my time of 42.12 .

The second event was the Rugby 6 miles on 14 May, a familiar challenging course but luckily for me I am able to travel by train with only a couple miles to cycle. The venue is also a rugby club. The start is always fast with a long downhill stretch in the first mile so was not surprised to run the first mile in 6.30. From that point it is gradually uphill in stages with a sharp climb to halfway followed by a long slow descent. On the uphill stretch I appeared to be performing well by overtaking several runners and similarly after halfway. The toughest stretch was on the approach to mile 5 where there are two hills close together thereafter the last mile is flat and fairly straight, allowing the opportunity to pick up on time. I managed to finish in 40.36 and was quite satisfied although would liked to have been closer to the 40 min barrier.

I missed the next two events the Bedford 6 miles and the Corby 5 miles and resumed the series at the Weedon 10K (8 miles west of Northampton). Potentially I could have cycled the 17 miles along the A5 but as normal reduce the distance by half with a train journey to Northampton and cycle from there. Unfortunately due to train delays I did not allow myself much time to recover from the hill last few miles.

It had rained heavily over the past day and with a country course was not surprised to learn there were some flooded spots although nothing serious enough to get your feet wet. The course is quite contrasting with the first 4K mainly flat, followed by a long steep hill. Given that I arrived late and was not feeling in a positive frame of mind, I took it cautiously to the hill thereafter it was quite fast to 7K with a long straight stretch increasingly in our favour as we went downhill. There followed a testing uphill stretch to 8K followed by the long steep descent to 9.5K. It is then a shock to the legs to suddenly have to negotiate a short climb otherwise another descent and short climb to the finish. As usual I ran the last 5K in about 20 minutes, to finish in 43.09. Following the cautious first 4K I also picked up a significant number of places in the last 6K.

Given the heavy rain during the day it was no surprise that the grassed parking area was saturated with the first few cars trying to leave experiencing difficulty. Luckily for me I did not have that problem and the cycle journey back to Northampton was hassle free and the earlier train problems had ceased.

Event 6 was held at Banbury over 5 miles, a place I could reach by coach and train. The venue was a local school with the start in a housing estate that was suddenly overtaken by runners albeit temporarily. The first mile is fairly fast followed by a longish slow climb thereafter an easy run to about mile 3 on the same road. Turning left there is a short sharp climb thereafter flat for half a mile otherwise undulating to the next left and the long slightly uphill stretch that evens out later and slightly downhill to the finish. I thought I ran a consistent race taking into account the hills although did not quite have the sprint finish left in me after the 120K cycle ride two days earlier and dropped a few places near the line to finish in 33.27.

One more event to go on 1 July, the Milton Keynes 10K a short cycle journey away at the Open University.

Peter Simpson